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No. 252: The New Gilded Age?

⁂ Nashville's Alt-Daily ⁂ Quorum · Free Speech · Gilded Age · Market Midterms · Goodwill Bust · Much More!

Good morning, everyone.

Doing whatever it takes to prevent the politicians from getting together is an ancient American ethos we’d do well to rekindle. It's in times like these when legislation is weaponized and the voice of the people dimmed by executive fiat, that meddling with the coherency of Congress would be appropriate.

We could, for example, entangle meeting times with obscure astrological events to confuse them. Require proof of vaccination, a negative test, background check, STD test, etc. before entering any committee or room in which legislation is to be discussed or voted upon. The parking lot should be placed 5 miles away and all electric vehicles — scooters, golf carts, etc. — banned from the grounds to protect the squirrels. Whatever it takes to prevent a quorum.

This must be done until we can figure out what's actually going on.


Today, we look at a local firefighter who got himself in some trouble, wonder what is meant when people say we're in the New Gilded Age, and look at how markets historically perform heading into mid-term elections.

For those of you who asked, our podcast is now listed with Apple Podcasts and a wide variety of other podcast publishers.

You can follow us on Twitter (@realpamphleteer), LinkedIn (@realpamphleteer), or Instagram (@realpamphleteer) for additional content.

Thanks for reading.

Check out the first episode of our new weekly podcast (Listen Now)


Jerod Hollyfield compiles some of the best movie offerings across a variety of streaming platforms.

The Pamphleteer Streaming Guide May 2022
From recent Oscar nominees to neglected 70s classics, this month’s offerings go beyond the algorithms.
  • Lightyears From Reality (Read)
  • Millennials Didn’t Ruin Cinema, They Just Made It About Themselves (Read)
  • An Oscars Guide for the Ambivalent (Read)


𐂅 First Amendment Rights, Professionalism, and the Age of Intersectionality

A local Nashville firefighter recently sued the city’s fire department after being suspended for 16 days over a tweet he posted on his social media page.


Joshua Lipscomb, aka Josh Black, is a professional firefighter by day and a comedian by night. While he rescues people on the worst days of their lives as a firefighter, his reputation online is that of trolling 'Let's Go Brandon' t-shirt wearing tourists, taking to the streets to talk about Republicans with the Nashville Scene, and promoting comedy shows at Zanies.

On more than one occasion, Black's online presence as a comedian has caused issues with the expectations of personal conduct expected from a Nashville firefighter. The use of an online persona is a gray area in an age where social media and 1st amendment rights seem to rub up against each other on a regular basis.


Black's suspension came after a tweet in which he claimed the Metro City Council is made up of white supremacists. "I hate feeding into the illusion that America’s government and existence is legitimate so I'm no fan of voting, but the majority of Nashville City Council is white supremacists." The post was in response to the recent Metro legislation regarding LPRs (license plate readers). The topic has cultivated controversy among many coalitions including the NAACP, Libertarian groups, and immigrant groups. Lipscomb finished his sentiment with a plea for millennials to pay closer attention to local politics.


Legislation in Metro Council regarding LPRs was first introduced by Joy Styles. Styles proposed the use of LPRs as a way to crack down on drag racing in her district. In an interesting plot twist, Styles has also blasted fellow council members for their white privilege. The irony that modern American society breeds turf wars regarding intersectionality dominance truly summarizes the current state of things.


While the right predominantly proclaims itself to be the defender of free speech, Black’s case does pose an interesting question. An understood boundary surrounding professionalism has slowly decayed as we've entered the age of social media. Does one have the right to blast personal opinions on social networks if it creates controversy that bleeds over to one’s profession? The million-dollar question remains: where do we draw the line with first amendment rights? Do we draw one at all?

Write us. We'd love to hear your thoughts.


  • Judge upholds suit against Williamson County Commission (Lookout) A judge is allowing a lawsuit against the Williamson County Commission from a conservation group to proceed on the grounds the group has standing to represent the interests of residents in preserving historically significant land from development.
  • Study seeks to improve congestion downtown (Post) With commute times and traffic concerns at the top of mind, the Nashville Department of Transportation, WeGo Public Transit, the Tennessee Department of Transportation and the Nashville Downtown Partnership are working together on a new study, Connect Downtown, in an effort to improve mobility and address traffic in the downtown area
  • E-Sports is coming to Williamson County Schools (Tennessean) Belong Gaming Arena, a new business that provides space for video gamers at CoolSprings Galleria, will partner with Williamson County Schools to start esports programs at local schools.



  • Five Points-area building sells for $1.02M (Post)
  • Parking lot near Broadway sells for $10.2M (Post)
  • Work to begin on Australia-influenced café in 12South (Post)
  • 1100+ acres for unknown development plan (Homepage)


The Gilded Age followed the conclusion of the Civil War. Rampant corruption, political gridlock, and a flourishing economy characterized the late 19th-century in America which earned the gilded moniker by virtue of its outward excesses indicating a thriving notion that papered over the serious internal conflicts.

It was then that the women's suffrage movement gained ground and inequality rose to heretofore unparalleled levels. Wages skyrocketed as industrialization took hold. Vanderbilt, Rockefeller, Carnegie, and others built their fortunes during this time as European immigrants — mostly of the impoverished variety looking for opportunity — poured into the country to chase the overflowing wealth that hadn't quite made it to their European homelands. Voter turnout rose to levels not attained since, and the modern two-party system developed the roots it still draws from today.

It was a wild, transformative, uneasy period that birthed the American Dream as ambitious families ventured Westward into the untamed frontier. The illusion of "unlimited opportunity" was perhaps truer then than during any previous time. Land was abundant and could be had for pennies on the dollar. The frontier brimmed with oil, gold, and open range grasslands on which men like Teddy Roosevelt staked their fortune.

Many today call our time the "New Gilded Age." I'm not here to exhaustively set the record straight on that front, but I will point to two similarities.

First, trust in government today is at a low point similar to during the Gilded Age. Oddly enough, voter turnout in the 2020 Presidential election (62%) was the highest its been since 1960 (62.8%). This seems to indicate an unintuitive Law of Democracy. That in times of contention and low trust, Democracy thrives if we're to measure it by participation — which seems like a good way to do so.

Second, the explosion of wealth coming from the technology industry has attracted people from around the globe. Not since the Gilded Age have immigrants as a percentage of the total population been in such abundance. Today, immigrants make up roughly 15% of the total population. The Gilded Age is the only other period that saw as high a proportion of immigrants. In both cases, the sense of "unlimited opportunity" expressed by the massive amount of wealth generated drew people to it.

"History doesn't repeat itself, but it rhymes," as Twain noted.

One interpretation of this is that much like in the Gilded Age, the US is in a period of rapid transition that began in the 60s with the Civil Rights Act and is culminating today. We all know what followed the Gilded Age: the ascent of America to world dominance and two massive wars that decimated much of Europe but cemented the hegemony of the United States in the process. This route first began with the Emancipation Proclamation (1863) and culminated with the assassination of William McKinley (1901).

This most recent period of turmoil started with the radical liberal policies of the 60s that include, but are not limited to, the Civil Rights Act. Lifting immigration quotas, constructing a massive welfare system, and a series of landmark rulings by the Supreme Court at the time continue to reverberate today as evidenced by the effort of the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade. 9/11 certainly marked a new American epoch, but we clearly have not fully reckoned with the radical shifts of the 60s.

Contrary to all the hooing-and-hawing of certain political operatives — namely those running fronts for highly unpopular Progressive policies — contention in a Democracy is a sign of health. Perhaps its naive to express anything but abject nihilism in today's Godless world of 'nothing matters'  — where apathy reigns supreme — but I've always held firmly to the maxim "hope for the best, but prepare for the worst." After all, James Madison warned us of this long before we got here in Federalist Paper No. 10 with his most famous admonishment, "Pure democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention." On some level, we all know this.

The next question to ask here is whether America remains a Democracy. A question for another time. Until then, enjoy the political bloodsports. It matters less to your own flourishing than you think.






View our full event calendar here.

🍺 The Pamphleteer hosts Bar Hours on the last Thursday of every month at Lucky's 3 Star Bar from 6-8 PM. The first ten guests get drinks on the company tab.

🎪 Check out our favorite driving distance festivals this summer.

👨🏻‍🌾 The Pamphleteer farmer's market guide


🍀 Live Irish Music @ McNamara’s Irish Pub, 6p, Free, Info

🎸 Kelly’s Heroes @ Robert’s Western World, 6:30p, Free, Info

🎸 North Mississippi Allstars @ Basement East, 7p, $23.50, Info
+ Blues rock


🥁 Gogol Bordello (5/21) @ Brooklyn Bowl, 8p, $33, Info

🎸 Boulevards (7/17) @ Basement East, 7p, $10, Info

🎸 My Morning Jacket (9/23) @ Ascend Amphitheater, 7p, $22.88, Info



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Political Theater Highlight Reel
  1. Biden's "Ministry of Truth" director says she wants "verified people" like her to be able to edit people's tweets so they can "add context to certain tweets"
  2. Elizabeth Warren when asked about abortion bill that failed by a vote of 51 against and 49 fo: "I believe in democracy, and I don't believe the minority should have the ability to block things that the majority wants to do."
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